A few months ago we made our way out to my parent’s for our monthly Sunday dinner. (And by “monthly”, I mean “weekly”. I keep promising Riley it will get pared down to once a month. And who knows? Maybe someday it will. But probably not.) I generally know the tone of Sunday dinner at my parent’s house by the smells that greet us in the entry way. Bacon frying equals a feast and good conversation. Nothing but my mom’s perfume left in the hallway from her return from church equals make your own grilled cheese and good conversation.
That Sunday the house was filled with the smell of mildly sweet and onions and a hint of thyme and was that bacon? Yes, yes it was! Oh, it was going to be a good Sunday.
When I rounded the corner I found dozens and dozens of little ceramic mugs strewn across the counters. Onion skins had fallen to the floor and the big pot on the stove was empty except for a few spoonfuls of something that looked like it had been delicious.
My dad walked around the corner.
“Dad! What happened here?”
“Oh, your mom. There is a new choir director at church and she wanted to make sure he had a good turn-out for his first day. So she told everyone that if they would come to the house for choir practice she would feed them. She woke up early and made enough soup for forty people. Sixty came. Next week she says she is doing sandwiches.” And here he shook his head.
I looked at the mess and shook my head, too.
The kitchen was a disaster. And the hordes of church ladies had eaten all of our food. We would be lucky to even find enough bread for the grilled cheese.
But I knew what our head shakes really meant.
We get to share our lives with a woman that invented a soup at 6 in the morning so that a new choir director could feel more welcome.
And that is something very special, indeed.
Enough-to-Feed-A-Choir Green Chile Butternut Squash Soup
Salt pork. Find it next to the ham. Rejoice.
My dad grew up in New Mexico. So we are green chile snobs. He has this stuff flown in every six months. Never fear, the canned green chile in the grocery store will do just fine. Taste it and decide how much heat you would like. My opinion? This soup is better with a little bite.
Like a meaty bouquet.
Feeds a crowd, split measurements in half for a family affair.
2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 onions, cut into quarters
2 1/2 cups chopped carrots
2 salt pork, skin removed and cut into eighths
2 teaspoons thyme
2 teaspoons cumin
Green chile, I use 3/4 cup but that can make a spicy soup. Just measure out according to taste.
6 – 8 cups chicken broth, also fine to do a mix of broth and water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ cups heavy cream
8 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces and fried until crisp
Chives for garnish (optional)
Wear an apron and put on some music. You are glorious and this soup will be, too.
Add chopped veggies and pork to a big ol’ stockpot. Throw in the spices. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add enough broth or water until the veggies are just covered. Bring to a boil. Cover pot and lower the heat until the soup is at a lovely, rolling simmer. Simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours or until the veggies are about falling apart and the pork is stick a fork in it tender.
Now here comes the fun part. Turn off the heat and emulsify all that juicy goodness right there in the pot. Emulsify until it is smooooooth. Slowly add cream and stir until the soup reaches desired taste and texture. I think 1 ½ cups is the perfect amount, but there is no such thing as too much cream. I will not judge you if you slip another half cup in there. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with a sprinkling of chives and a few pieces of that crispy bacon.